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Game Day: Houston Rockets Seek To Clip Pelicans Wings And Soar Above .500

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Game Day: Houston Rockets versus New Orleans Pelicans

Both teams played on Christmas Day however the Rockets played much later in the day. Despite that fact Houston arrive with more bounce in their step having doled out a loss (just the sixth to San Antonio) to the Spurs and overall playing a solid defensive game. Conversely the Pelicans had a chance to win their game in Miami throughout the match, but their inability to defend cost them in the end.

The Details

Venue:  Smoothie  King  Center,  New Orleans, Louisiana

Game Time: 7:00 PM EST – 6:00 PM CT

TV: NBA TV – Nationally televised, ROOT in Houston, FSNOLA in New Orleans

Radio: 790 AM in Houston and WRNO 99.5 FM in New Orleans

Recent History:

The teams split the season series last year and though both teams suffered multiple injuries oddly most of their core players were available each time they faced one another.

December 2: NOP 101 – 108 HOU

April 12:  NOP 114 – 121 HOU

March 25: HOU 95 – 93 NOP

January 2: HOU 83-111 NOP

Walking Wounded:

Pelicans:

Quincy Pondexter – left knee, out indefinitely

Rockets:

  • Sam Dekker – back surgery November 20 , will be out 3 months

Projected Starters:

Pistons:  Tyreke EvansEric Gordon, Alonzo Gee, Anthony DavisOmer Asik

Rockets: Patrick Beverley,  James HardenTrevor ArizaClint Capela, Dwight Howard

Reserves:

Pelicans: Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Norris Cole,  Alexis Ajinca,   Dante Cunningham

Rockets: Marcus Thornton, Corey BrewerTy Lawson,  Jason Terry, K.J. McDaniels

The Key Match-up:

Obviously Anthony Davis poses a huge problem for the Rockets in terms of his size, versatility and ability to play in or out of the paint. While the Rockets seem to have found a better balance of offense-defense with the return of Motiejunas the same can’t be said for the the Pelicans who  haven’t utilized Omer Asik to his best advantages.  Perhaps Asik wasn’t built for the speed of the modern day position-less game, but last season the best defensive line-ups all featured him playing alongside Davis.

Of note, there were incidences yesterday (Christmas Day game vs. Heat) when Davis literally looked checked out and I’m not referring to when the Pelicans were trailing the game. Rather during the overtime I caught sight of Davis just standing in the paint, not covering anyone and on a couple of occasions not bothering to run for his position on either end or attempt a rebound. It feels like he thinks the season is already a write off so why bother.

And if you want further proof of h0w terrible the Pelicans defense is, watch the YouTube clip where more times than not the entire Pelican team on the court stand and watch as the ball zips by them to one Rocket player or another.

In the front court Tyreke Evans is always a handful, but he went down pretty hard on a couple of occasions Christmas Day, so he might not be 100%.

Keys To Winning:

  • Go at Davis early and often. With the Pelican star having put in 50 minutes in the losing effort yesterday he’s bound to be extremely tired, so the Rockets best bet is to take it to him early, with several different players.
  • Use Offensive Prowess: As per the above chart the only offensive area the Pelicans best the Rockets in is less turnovers, so the moral of this story is control the turnovers and utilize your offensive assets.
  • Capitalize on Defensive Intangibles: The Rockets hold a fairly significant edge in blocks and steals categories which speaks to the energy Houston bring to the court. They’ll need to utilize that today to build an early edge and take the Pelicans out of the game early.
  • Continue to Build: More than anything the Rockets need to prove to their fan base, the media, their coaching staff, ownership, the Association and most importantly to themselves that they have turned the corner. A win today will put them over .500 for the first time this season and with a slew of +.500 teams on the horizon there is no time like the present for these Rockets to assert themselves by proving their chemistry is an asset to be utilized.

Prediction:

More from Space City Scoop

The odds makers give the Rockets a minor edge of a single point, however since Houston is the visiting team what that really says is A) they think the Rockets will win by 3 to 5 points and B) We’d like to give the Rockets a big edge but they keep letting us down. Well I made up the last part, but the truth is that has been their M.O. (modus operandi) all season. The over – under is slated for 211 points.

Like the odds makers I’m nervous to select the Rockets to back up one of their best efforts (especially defensively) of the season with another equal effort. Then again, the Pelicans have done nothing to instill any confidence in me that they’ll even bother to tackle trying to make a run for the post season. My pick is based solely on what I saw of Anthony Davis yesterday when he literally gave the ball game away to the older Heat players, therefore: Rockets by 5

For more exciting news and stories on the New Orleans Pelicans visit our affiliate FanSided site: Pelican Debrief   Plus check our our Preseason Team Preview of the Pelicans :

Next: The BROW-Era Team Preview

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Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

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